The CIA Is Keeping Secrets. Hello?

The brouhaha over the assassination plan is classic Washington. But it could do real harm

Chris Usher for TIME

Vice President Dick Cheney listens as President George W. Bush makes a statement in the "Cash Room" in the Treasury building.

On June 24, CIA Director Leon Panetta made a confession. For the past eight years, the agency has been running a top-secret unit to assassinate or grab members of al-Qaeda. The program was deliberately kept from Congress — supposedly on former Vice President Dick Cheney's orders — and Panetta stopped it as soon as he heard about it.

Sounds alarming. But like many of these stories, there's less to it than meets the eye. The unit conducted no assassinations or grabs. A former CIA officer involved in the program told me that no targets were picked, no weapons...

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